With the release of Ubuntu 10.04 on 29th April I was keen to blow away my existing installation (Ubuntu 9.10) and perform a fresh installation. Not because there was anything wrong with that release but as I am still finding my feet with Linux in general there were numerous redundant packages and general cruft laying around.
With my /home folder fully backed up onto an external HDD (and to my Amazon S3 account) I duly downloaded the .iso, burnt it to a cd and set about the installation.
Booting from the cd I expected to be greeted with the usual options menu, from which I intended to select ‘Check Disk for Defects’ just to be sure that everything was going to be ok. However, the slash screen stayed up for somewhere between 5-10 minutes during which time my CD drive was spinning and my hard disk LED was flashing away – so I knew it was doing something – but what? There was nothing on screen that gave anything away and I just had to sit and wait. When the options menu was eventually displayed there was no ‘Check Disk for Defects’ option, just the option to run from the CD or to install to disk.
As I was doing a full installation I was a little concerned that my burnt disk may not be 100% – I really did not want to end up with a laptop with half an installation and problematic booting. Having said that – I could always boot into a live session using my 9.10 CD and download/reburn the CD so I just clicked the full install option.
After specifying the usual timezone and user details the installation was done in about 30 minutes.
Rebooting into my new installation was a pretty quick affair and while I’m not a fast boot/shutdown fiend I was impressed – more on that later. I was more concerned about how the new system would perform, would it recognise all my hardware (as all the previous versions had) and could I get on with the buttons being on the wrong side of the windows. This layout change had caused a lot of aggravation in the Ubuntu community so I was interested how it would affect my use of the system and whether it would have me editing files to put them back again.
After logging in the first thing I did was to connect to my WiFi which was straightforward as always – I did like the ‘throbbing’ icon in the notification panel while it was connecting, a small thing but it gives that polished feeling.
Clicking around the menus I took a look at the Ubuntu Software Centre and was pleased to see that it has also moved on. I feel that the biggest obstacle to Linux adoption is the locating and installation of software. I put me off in the past (back in the RedHat 8.0 days) and it has put friends of mine off quite recently. The good old ‘apt-get‘ approach is fine if you know what you want to install and exactly what it is called but this is a barrier to entry for potential Windows converts who are used to downloading a setup.exe and just double clicking on it. Having a catalogue of applications which can be installed with a few clicks of the mouse is a very powerful and welcome recent addition to Ubuntu. I was please to see HomeBank listed as one of the featured applications although I was disappointed to see that it was not the latest version – so I installed from GetDeb instead.
The other new addition I wanted to look at was the new Ubuntu One Music Store which is built into the default music player, RhythmBox. Not that I wanted any music right now but it is nice to know that I don’t have to rely on iTunes in Windows. I searched around for a few of my favourite artists and was please to see that they were well presented with new and old albums being available for around a reasonable price of around £7.99.
This new feature has received a little bit of flack mainly for it’s use of MP3 files rather than an open standard like ogg of flac. Canonical fended off these criticisms by explaining that the 7digital (the partner company providing the actual music) were only able to provide music in the format the the recording labels would allow – and on the whole that is MP3. Add to this that unless you are using a suitably equipped computer playing ogg or flac files is not the easy. My iPod does not support them and neither does the stereo in my car. They both support MP3 though. While I can understand the gripes of the members of the community we have to remember that we live in the real world and if they are adamant that they want to use the open standard formats then the answer is simple – don’t use the Ubuntu One Music Store (or iTunes for that matter). RhythmBox will still work as it always did – if you liked it before then you’ll still like it, nothing has changed in that respect.
By this time I was getting a little bit frustrated when moving my mouse to the top right corner of the windows and not finding the usual minimise/maximise/close buttons but was, and in fact still am, prepared to stick with it for now and give it a go.
With all of my email in the cloud I did not have to worry about configuring an EMail client but was keen to give GWibber a try. While my Twitter experience is starting to lose it’s shine I do still use identica and we (well I) have recently implemented a statusnet instance at work for internal communication and GWibber is capable of pulling all three feeds into a single place. I had been using Twhirl while running Ubuntu 9.10 but I like to try other applications from time to time just to see if there is anything better out there. GWibber has the benefit of not having to have a separate widget displayed on screen for each account making good use of the limited screen estate I have on the laptop.
I carried out various tests and was please to find that all my hardware seemed to be working with the exception of my card reader – but this never worked on any of the Ubuntu installations I have used. This is a small annoyance really as I can connect the camera via USB and Lucid is happy to mount it as a drive allowing me to manage my photos directly on the media card.
The next major tasks are to install and configure the Android SDK and a suitable IDE, probably Eclipse – although I’ll post about that separately.
I mentioned earlier that boot time is not really important to me – and it isn’t. However, shutdown time is. Why? Well I mainly use a laptop and when I shut it down it normally means that I’m about to change locations but even if I am just done for the day then I still want to put the thing away. Far too many times in the past when I’ve shut Windows down I’ve accidentally missed the ‘Shut Down and Install Updates’ message and have been sitting around waiting for it to actually power down – that is a pain I can live without. Shutting down Ubuntu 10.04 is completed well under 10 seconds, actually nearer to 5 seconds. As a test I restarted the system and reached the login screen in around 20 seconds. Forty seconds later, after logging in, I was able to open Firefox and surf the web – and that includes connecting to my WiFi..! I’m not a speed freak when it comes to boot times, but that’s quick.
So all in all I’m very happy with 10.04. Ok I’m still getting used to the buttons being moved but if I find that I really can’t get used to it then I’ll just move them back again. I’m still in the process of installing my favorite applications such as gPodder (for downloading my podcasts and transferring them to my iPod), HomeBank (for my finances) and DropBox (yes I know I could use Ubuntu One but at work we use DropBox and as it works on Linux and Windows I get the best of both worlds).
I’ve got a few things I want to look at over the next few months so hopefully I’ll be blogging a little bit more – mainly so that I can look back and remind myself what I did and how I did it in the future.